Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 24 October 2021

by Derek Turton 24 October 2021

Welcome to worship with us today. The service here reflects the face to face worship in our buildings.

Call to Worship; Psalm 119 v 57 – 64

Hymn; From Heaven You Came Helpless Babe (Servant King)

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Prayers of thanksgiving and confession
Living and loving Father God, Lord of all creation, we praise you. Give us eyes to see you, ears to hear you and hearts to know you. Forgive us when we walk past you in our haste.

Living and Loving Lord Jesus, you showed us how to live and showed us how to love. You rescued us from sin and darkness. Yet, we still need daily saving from words, deeds and thoughts that spoil our relationship with you.

Through your Living and Loving Holy Spirit, we come seeking change, inspire us that we maybe steadfast in our hearing, in our speaking, in our believing, and our living and especially our loving. We humbly pray. Amen

Hymn;  Jesus is the name we honour.

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Reading ; Mark 10 v 46 – 52

Hymn; Open our eyes Lord we want to see Jesus

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Reading; Romans 12 v 9 – 21

Sermon - What it means to be Christ Like.
I suppose it would be logical to assume that Rome at the time of Paul’s writing, would have been a Roman community but in truth it was actually a cosmopolitan cauldron of various cultures. As the Roman Empire expanded, bringing into Rome’s rule more territory, their occupation brought people from many races and cultures into the city. These would include slaves and prisoners but also traders and merchants who were eager to tap into the wealth opportunities that the new markets presented. Consequently the community in Rome became a mixture of cultures all with their own traditions, beliefs and Gods.

The Romans had their own personal Gods which were specific to each individual. The Greeks on the other hand had a God for every day of the week, the Jews brought their God and some had no God at all or perhaps a lump of stone or piece of wood was a chosen belief. It was with this backdrop that Paul established the Church of Christ, preaching a new message of salvation through belief in one God and through faith in the risen Son of God. When we consider the enormity of Paul’s task it is amazing to see how successful he was in establishing the church and how it grew. There is nothing impossible for God or for those who work for God.

Paul’s message to the believers in the church in Rome was to give up all their old beliefs and way of life and adopt a life in the spirit of God. They must give up all association with immorality, adultery, hatred, deceit, and revenge against their enemies. Having cast all these human frailties out they must then fill the void that was left with love, just as Jesus Christ has loved them they must love each other. They must become ‘Christ like’ in their thinking, and living, emulating Christ in every way.

In our reading from Mark’s gospel we see the very essence of Paul’s message. It would have been so easy and convenient for Jesus to have passed Blind Bartimaeus by and moved on to greater crowds, in fact the crowds around Bartimaeus were telling him to shut up and stop annoying Jesus. But Jesus is love and passing by those who are suffering is not in his nature. This blind beggar had the faith through which he knew that Jesus could bring his sight back and he continued to cry out to The Lord.

On this occasion Jesus didn’t even need to touch the man, he healed through the power of God and Bartimaeus not only regained his physical sight but also understood that Jesus was the Messiah the Son of God and we are told he followed Jesus down the road.

On some occasions Jesus lays his hands on those who needed healing. These hands would drive out demons, cure the sick and the lame, and even raise the dead from their slumber. Those fingers stroked the eyes of the blind and brought sight and understanding. The fingers that covered the ears of the deaf and made them hear.

But these hands did more; - they guided and showed the way in an uncertain world both then and now. They pointed to the pathway through the labyrinth of life that would lead to the kingdom of heaven and life everlasting. These hands and fingers give us the opportunity to be one with God, justified by faith in the eyes of the father.

Beckoning hands that called the disciples to follow and now call us to his side to see the wounds that gave us life. These hands felt the nails that cruelly fixed him to the cross. The fist clenched around the iron spike not in anger but in prayer for their forgiveness for they know not what they do.

There is nothing that can stop the love of God from shining through Jesus Christ. His feet would carry him over great distances to reach those who needed his touch. They carried him to the well at Sychar where he met the Samaritan woman. Tradition forbade Jesus from speaking to her and vice versa but tradition is no boundary to the Lord and he showed love and understanding to this troubled soul. Jesus did not criticise or rebuke her but gave her peace and understanding. When she left him she went away joyfully to tell others of Christs love.

Tradition presented no barrier to Jesus nor did threats or false teachings of the Pharisees. The only times his feet would bend would be in times of prayer and to enable him wash the feet of others. But these feet would stumble under the weight of the wooden cross being carried up the hill to Golgotha where they, like the hands would feel the cruel nails hammered into the wood.

It would be easy for us to excuse bitterness and a determination for revenge, even hatred, resulting from the persecution that Jesus experienced, but these are human reactions and not characteristics that formed part of Jesus. He is God, as John tells us in his gospel, Jesus is the Word and the Word was with God. 

Jesus is love and forgiveness.

Revenge, hate, bitterness are all products of sin and Jesus was free from sin, he was filled with the Grace of God and even as he hung on the cross at the point of death he reached out to his persecutors in a prayer of forgiveness.

In Matthew 18 v21 – 22 Peter asks Jesus how many times must he forgive his brother who sins against him, 7 times? Jesus replies not 7 but 70 times 7 in fact forgive without end.

As Jesus hung on that cross he demonstrated the ultimate forgiveness, forgiving those for who he was about to die as a sacrifice for their sins.

He went to the cross willingly knowing that it was his fathers will and through his suffering, death and resurrection he would pave the way for forgiveness of sin and life everlasting in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus was the gentle lamb who gave himself so that we can live. 

Paul’s message to the believers in the church in Rome was for them in their time but it is just as relevant to us today in our time. We must be, ‘Christ like’ in our thinking, our actions and our life style.

We must resist the temptation to walk past the Blind Bartimaeus in our society and we must reach out a healing hand if not to physically heal then to spiritually heal and open the eyes of the spiritually blind to the Good News of the gospels.

We can heal by holding the hand of those who are desperate. Lending a listening ear to those who need to share a problem, provide a guiding arm to those who find the paths of life too difficult, and give hope to those who have lost confidence in the future.

We can show love, compassion and caring to our neighbour, our friends and our enemies. 

We must listen for the call from God and respond. We must be, ‘Christ Like’ and love others as our Lord Jesus Christ loves us.

Hymn; How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him.

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Prayers of intercession and dedication of offering and Lord’s Prayer
Faithful God we pray for Christians throughout the world, and particularly for those who are persecuted because of their faith in you. We ask for your protection for them, and strength and guidance for all individuals and organisations that seek to help them.  Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Creator God we thank you that you care for the entire world and all its people, and we pray for all countries that are torn apart by conflict, illness and hunger.  We especially pray for all migrants and refugees and ask that they meet kindness and generosity in their search for a new home. We give you thanks for the work being done by Susanna Wesley House. We pray for the leaders of all nations that they would strive for justice and peace for all people.  In a moment of silence, please pray for any country that is on your mind today. Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Loving God, we pray for our local community. Please show us how we can best serve them.

We pray for all children, teachers and staff in our local schools and ask that they will be refreshed by the half-term holiday.  In a moment of silence, please pray for any aspect of life in our local community that is on your mind today. Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Gracious God we pray for the sick, the lonely and the hurting in our community and all who care for them. Help them to keep their eyes fixed on you and give them the courage to face the trials and temptations that may come. In a moment of silence, please pray for one person who is on your mind today. Lord, in your Mercy: Hear our Prayer

Almighty God, we ask you to be with us in all that we do this coming week, that we may serve you by serving other people. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Hymn; Here is Love vast as the ocean.

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The Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.